By Scott Finlow, Chief Marketing Officer, Pepsico Global Foodservice
Imagine getting into the back of an autonomous van and enjoying a fresh, personalized dinner on your commute, or going to a restaurant knowing that they’ll be prepared to customize any food or beverage on the menu to meet your individual health and dietary needs.
If you’re a restaurateur, imagine having predictive insights into what each guest, each night is likely to order and being able to purchase the right amount of fresh produce, proteins, and beverages, down to the hour, or having a fully automated back of the house that can prepare these personalized orders, allowing you to focus on providing incredible guest experiences.
In the future, these scenarios—and others we can hardly imagine—will be the norm. New data sources, artificial intelligence, automation, and the internet of things are creating massive disruption in our lives, and companies like Apple, Amazon, Uber, and Netflix are transforming consumer expectations. Foodservice is no exception.
Increasingly, people demand speed, ease, and personalization as they snack and eat throughout their day. People now expect to be able to go online and see restaurant reviews, look up popular dishes, and even find health information and ingredient lists. They expect to be able to order carry out and delivery online. And they expect their order to be taken, prepared, and delivered as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.
Data and technology are creating incredible opportunities for us in the food and beverage industry—it's an exciting time to be developing new solutions and meeting consumer demand
This has become today’s baseline. Many restaurants are now going beyond this to provide unique, personalized experiences and new offerings to match people’s preferences and on-the-go lifestyles.
I’ve worked at PepsiCo for 23 years. Over that time, like the food service industry, a lot has changed within the company. But one constant has been our commitment to better serve consumers through insight-driven innovation. This commitment now extends beyond reinventing products and packaging to include digital innovation and services. Given the pace of change, we now need to work faster and smarter to remain on the leading edge of what consumers demand from a contemporary and relevant food and beverage company.
A great example of this is snackbot, our mobile-enabled, autonomous delivery robot. A year ago, we kicked off an initiative to better meet the needs of today’s on-the-go college students. Through this effort, we learned that there was an opportunity to make healthier snacking more convenient. So we got to work. Today—only a year later—Snackbot is being tested at the University of the Pacific. It delivers to students at more than 50 locations on campus and is informing our plans for a more modular and autonomous vending model to meet the evolving demand of college students.
Another example is our new Hydration Platform, which is a connected ecosystem designed to meet the personalized hydration needs of today’s consumers. A design-led system that includes products, equipment, and a user-friendly app, this platform enables consumers to set hydration goals and track their consumption as well as the plastic bottles they’ve saved.
We’re launching this new platform in June and will be scaling it across channels in support of our Beyond the Bottle strategy.
We’re also investing in the digital capabilities of our foodservice partners. Next month, PepsiCo Foodservice is launching a new Digital Lab to bring resources from our company and a network of innovative digital partners to help these important customers—with a particular focus on the fast-moving world of online ordering and delivery. We recognize that foodservice is flooded with an overwhelming number of digital tools. To help ease our foodservice partners’ adoption of new technologies, we’re using the lessons we’re learning from our own digital transformation and our global scale.
We’re working with leading companies on ratings/reviews and reputation management, loyalty, and point of sale technologies to develop a range of pre-negotiated contracts for our partners. We’re partnering with the leading third-party delivery companies to unlock solutions that can help our partners capitalize on the growth of online ordering and delivery. And we’re writing digital playbooks to help cut through the noise and make new digital tools more approachable and viable options for operations of any size.
Data and technology are creating incredible opportunities for us in the food and beverage industry—it's an exciting time to be developing new solutions and meeting consumer demand. I’m energized by the changes and the future we’re building towards with our customers. As we do this, it will be even more important to stay focused on the consumer and leverage data and technology in inventive and responsible ways to help make their lives better. It’s going to be fun.